Agriculture in Israel

Agriculture in Israel has been a Long Hard Struggle


Agriculture in Israel is the success story of a long, hard struggle against adverse land and climate conditions. Over half of Israel’s saline soil is arid or semi-arid (only 20% is arable) and Israel’s natural water supplies are below the UN definition of water poverty. Even so, since Israel’s establishment in 1948, the country has almost tripled the territory used for farming, and production has multiplied 16 times, link. Today, Israel manages to produce 95% of its own food requirements.

Israel’s agricultural success is attributed to the close cooperation between farmers, Israel’s agro industry, and technological research (R&D is about 17 percent of Israel’s budget allocation for agriculture). Technological achievements include computer controlled drip irrigation, computerized early-warning systems for leaks, thermal imaging for crop water stress detection, biological pest control and new varieties of fruit and vegetables. Water shortage is alleviated through extensive water-reuse (86%) and desalination plants.


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Agricultural EconomyAngry FarmersFruit & VegetablesMeat ProductionDesert FarmingForestryTechnologyLand ManagementWater ResourcesFertilizersAgro Communities

Agricultural Economy & Exports

Share of the Economy: Today, Israel’s agricultural sector is a highly developed industry although its importance in Israel’s overall economy is relatively small. Over the years Israel has diverted from an agricultural-based economy to a more sophisticated, industrialized economy with a diversified manufacturing base. In 1979, Israel’s agriculture accounted for about 6% of GDP, shrinking to about 3.3% in 2014, link.

Share of the Workforce: Only a small proportion of the population is employed in actual agricultural production. In 2014 it amounted to just 1.2% of the total workforce, link. But despite a small workforce, and despite the fact that more than half of Israel’s land is desert, Israel still manages to produce 95% of its own food requirements, link. Statistics underscore the success of Israel’s agricultural sector: Israel ranks high for livestock production and agricultural machinery whilst ranking low for availability/quality of agricultural land.

Agricultural Exports

Agriculture in Israel contributed to just 3% of total exports in 2006, link, rising to 4.2% (over $2 billion US) of total exports in 2010. Currently, Israel exports more than $2 billion dollars of fruit and vegetables each year. These exports amounted to 18% of agricultural production in 2014, link.

Agricultural fertilizers are also a major export of Israel, link. About 60% of the country’s vegetable exports come from the Arava region (Israel’s long, eastern valley between the Dead Sea and Eilat). Israel is also a major exporter of dates, avocados, olive oil, pomegranates and almonds, and is a world-leader in agricultural technologies. This success is attributed to the close cooperation between farmers, Israel’s agro industry, and technological research (see below).

Agricultural Technology Export: The State of Israel is committed to fulfilling its responsibility to contribute to the fight against poverty and global efforts to achieve sustainable development. To this end, MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, provides technical assistance through the provision of experts sharing their knowledge and technical know-how. In the area of agriculture, it provides intensive programs on entrepreneurship, marketing and post-harvest. For instance, it has taught Russian professionals how to use advanced agricultural techniques for improving and preserving fresh produce, including quality and safety. MASAV has also provided courses on Sustainable Livestock Feed Development and Breeding Techniques in Resource Constrained Situations in Africa.

Collapse of Israel’s Agriculture?

In 2015 Israel resumed purchases of fruit and vegetables from Gaza to help the Palestinian economy and make up for a shortfall in Israeli produce caused by the Jewish biblical fallow or Shemittah year, link. Also, export of poultry and dairy produce to the EU from Jewish settlements has been restricted for political reasons, link. Some claim there are now massive imports of suspect quality produce from the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan. Whilst Israeli farmers follow strict health requirements and produce high quality food, it is claimed these imported products are not checked for quality, link.

These changes are having a detrimental effect on Israeli farmers. They claim the right-wing Israeli government is not supporting Israeli agriculture. They require the government to immediately tackle the issues of the price of water, foreign workers, “mark up” by the middleman, and the regulation of agricultural exports, link.

Fruit & Vegetables


Israeli fruit market

Some fruit and vegetable statistics, link, link:

  • Fruit and vegetables amount to typically 50% of Israel’s total agricultural output
  • Israeli fruit and vegetables accounted for about 12 billion shekels (3 billion USD) in revenue in 2014
  • Total agricultural revenues in 2013 stood at over 30 billion shekels (8 billion USD)
  • Israel’s fruit production includes oranges, grapefruits, lemons, apples, apricots, grapes peaches, mangoes, plums and pears
  • Israel’s greenhouse production of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, herbs, melons adheres to the highest international standards
  • The economic advantage of bee-keeping (for crop pollination) proves to be 30 times higher than the value of the honey produced

New Fruits from Israel


Over the years, Israel has given the world some amazing new agricultural products. For example, Israel introduced the seedless, hardy Bet Alpha cucumber, the delicious Galia melon, the spaghetti squash (high in antioxidants), exotic and vitamin C-rich black tomatoes, seedless peppers, a hardy mini basil tree, and the Anna apple (suitable for hot climates), link. This reflects Bible prophecy:

 Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit
(Isa 27.6)
The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase
(Ezek 34.27)

Meat Production

The growth rate of Israel’s beef and veal production increased rapidly in the mid 1980’s (reaching 65% in 1986) but it has leveled off to zero growth in recent years, link. In 1998 about two-thirds of Israeli beef consumption was still imported, but today nearly half of the country’s fresh beef supply is from local producers, link. Israel’s meat production amounts to about 40% of Israel’s total agricultural output, of which 17% is poultry. One more interesting fact: Israel’s cows produce the highest amounts of milk per animal in the world! Recall that Israel was called out of Egypt “to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3.8).

Agriculture in Israel uses Cutting-Edge Technology

As the world population grows, smart solutions for better agriculture and safer food storage are essential. This means investing in cutting edge agricultural technology, and since 2004 R&D expenditure has accounted for typically 17% percent of the agricultural budget, link. Advances in Israeli agriculture are now helping to feed the world, link. Here’s some examples:

  • Israeli drip and micro-irrigation solutions have rapidly spread worldwide. The newest models are self-cleaning and maintain uniform flow rate regardless of water quality and pressure. The Israeli company Netafim is a world leader in drip irrigation
  • Thermal imaging is used for water status mapping of crops. This is based upon the correlation between the water status of foliage and its temperature (leaf temperature rises under water stress), link
  • Netting of different colours is used for plant growth control
  • The breeding of beneficial insects and mites for biological pest control, bumblebees for natural pollination in greenhouses and open fields, and sterile fruit flies to control this major pest in fruit trees
  • Generation of unique software to help producers grow fruits and vegetables, raise poultry and dairy cows, manage vineyards and make olive oil
  • Development of strains of potatoes that thrive in hot, dry climates, and can be irrigated by saltwater
  • Development of new varieties of tomatoes with the aim of making them as tasty as possible, link
  • Development of reusable plastic trays to collect dew from the air, reducing the water needed by crops or trees by up to 50 percent.
  • Development of algae culture (or Algoculture) for fodder algae, dietary supplements, veterinary pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, bio-plastics and fertilizers
  • Post-harvest technologies include modified atmosphere packaging (using biodegradable materials), non-chemical hot water rinsing and biocontrol agents against pathogens


Forest Fires: In November 2016 forest fires ravaged parts of northern Israel, especially around Haifa and parts of the West Bank, link. Arson was suspected, link, link. More than 7,500 acres of forests were destroyed, together with over 10,000 fruit trees and computerized drip-irrigation systems. Israel has now embarked on re-planting over twenty kinds of fruit trees, see Israel Trees. Recall that when the Israelites entered Canaan, they were instructed to “plant all kinds of trees for food” (Lev 19.23)

Reforesting to combating desertification

Since the time of Christ the Holy Land (Israel) has undergone gradual desertification – a process by which a region is turned into desert either by natural processes or as a result of poor use of the land, link. For instance, prior to World War I, the Ottoman empire cleared Israel of its pine and oak trees in order to build railways!

But with the first aliyah (Jewish returns) around the start of the 20th century, the need to combat desertification became one of national importance. The new immigrants embarked upon an extensive program of afforestation, and since 1900 almost 250 million sub-tropical trees have been planted in all regions of Israel, from the Golan and Galilee in the north to the Negev in the south, link, link.

Much of the recovery has been achieved through the afforestation programme of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its partners. As a result, Israel is one of only two countries in the world that began the 21st century with more trees than it had at the beginning of the 20th century: in 1948 forests covered only 2% of Israel’s territory, but by 2014 trees covered 8.5% of the land. By comparison, only 1% of adjacent Jordan is currently forested, link. To date, Israel has some 280 forests, link.

Types of Tree

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree … the cypress tree and the pine … (Isa 41.19)

trees in Israel

Jerusalem forest. Image: Dror Feitelson Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5], Wikimedia Commons

What type of trees have been planted in Israel? With a dry climate similar to that of California or Spain, Israel is a natural home for relatively short trees that need little water i.e. sub-tropical trees. Some, like acacias, can go for months without even a drop. But Israel has also planted ceders, the Aleppo pine (also known as the Jerusalem pine), the common oak, the stone pine (also known as the nut pine) and cypress trees (which can live for hundreds of years), link, link. It is interesting to note that, as Israel is restored, Bible prophecy says that these precise trees will be planted.

The reforestation program has had a favourable effect on the humidity of the soil and on rainfall, thereby changing the climate, link. No rain falls in the land from May to September, but Israel now experiences both the former (November-December) and the latter rains (March-April), link, bringing into mind the following Bible prophecy:

Be glad then, you children of Zion … He has given you the … the former rain, and the latter rain (Joel 2.23)

Agriculture in Israel: Desert Farming

The Negev is the sparsely populated desert area between Be’er Sheva in the north and Eilat in the south. It has an arid and semi-arid climate with an annual rainfall of just 2-6 inches. On the other hand, the Negev has an almost unlimited underground supply of brackish (slightly salty) water, which can be exploited for irrigation using Israel’s new technologies – such as drip irrigation. The Ramat Negev Desert AgroResearch Center (RNDARC), a regional government facility, was built at the junction of two different desert terrain types to study multiple crop/ecosystem interactions. The center works cooperatively with, and provides extension services to, agricultural communities in the Ramat Negev region.

The result is that the region now plays an important role in Israel’s agricultural production, and today more than 40 percent of the country’s vegetables and field crops are grown in the Negev desert. And the Arava, on the eastern border of the Negev, produces over 90% of Israel’s melon exports. More …

The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose (Isaiah 35.1)

Fish in the Desert

Some desert conditions are also optimal for raising aquarium fish, and so Israeli technology has developed aquaculture – fish farming in the desert!  The system pumps low-quality brackish water from deep underground aquifers and fills land pools in the desert. The brackish, warm water is found to be optimal for raising some type of marine fish and shrimp (the latter for export). This system provides an entirely new source of protein and income for desert-dwellers, and as fresh water supplies dwindle it is becoming increasingly important in the arid regions of the world. Israel is also cultivating argan trees in the desert (for their prized oil) and is using brackish water to irrigate olive groves. As prophecy says:

Israel’s Land Management

Today, Israel’s agriculture is the success story of a long, hard struggle against adverse land conditions. Over half of Israel’s saline soil is arid or semi-arid and only 20% is arable. Even so, Israeli farmers have come a long way since the Zionist pioneers began clearing away rock-strewn fields and draining the swampland. Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, the country has almost tripled the territory used for farming and production has multiplied 16 times, link. The preservation of agricultural land that has been recovered is the responsibility of the Israel Land Authority (ILA) – a government agency responsible for managing Israel’s public domain land of some 4,820,500 acres.

Agriculture in Israel: Water Resources

agriculture in Israel

Israel’s National Water Carrier. Image: NielsF CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia, Enlarge

NATURAL RESOURCES: Israel’s total annual renewable natural sources of fresh water are well below the UN definition of water poverty. So natural water is at a premium and existing resources are over used.

Israel’s surface water is concentrated mainly in the north and east of the country – notably the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) – which is fed primarily from the Jordan River system. In fact, 80% of Israel’s water is in the north and so the  National Water Carrier system conveys water from Lake Galilee southwards. The other two main sources of water are the Coastal Aquifer (the coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea) and the Mountain Aquifer (under the central north-south Carmel mountain range), both of which are accessed by pumping. It is claimed that these aquifers lie under Palestinian territory (Gaza and the West Bank respectively), link, although this can be disputed on legal grounds.

FRESH WATER SHORTAGE: Rainfall in Israel has fallen to half its 1948 average, and Israel and the Levant are expected to get even drier. In 2017, Israel’s Water Authority announced that the Sea of Galilee water level was the lowest in a century. This reflected a 4-year regional drought affecting the whole of the Middle East. It was claimed that there was not enough water in the Kinneret to supply both the Jordan kingdom (an agreement signed in 2015) and the Jordan River, link. The shortage affects pumping and agriculture in the Kinneret area, although much of the rest of Israel is supplied by desalination plants along the Mediterranean coast. As for the future, Israel is promised literally showers of blessings from heaven:

I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing” (Ezek 34.26)

WATER REUSE & DESALINATION PLANTS: Given the lack of natural water resources, and the prospect of an even drier climate, Israel now makes extensive use of desalination plants, reuse of treated sewage for agriculture, computerized early-warning systems for leaks, and computerized drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers. In fact, Israel is a world leader in water reuse (86%) compared to say, Australia (10%). So it may not come as a surprise to learn that, through these technologies, Israel is now a water surplus nation, link, link.

As of 2016, Israel had five desalination plants, the largest (Sorek) producing over 600 million cubic meters of water/year, link. This plant alone provides enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people! The desalination process involves membrane technology, where saltwater is pushed into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. The key is to capture the microorganisms in saltwater before they reach the membranes to minimize fouling of the membrane.

A downside of desalination is that it is energy intensive (consuming 3% of Israel’s electrical power output) and a by-product is very salty water.

water generation

WATER GENERATION: An alternative to desalination is to extract and condense the natural humidity in the air. Watergen, an Israel-based company uses humidity in the air to create clean and fresh drinking water. The heart of the Watergen product line is the revolutionary GENius™ heat-exchange technology. Air is drawn into the Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG), where it is thoroughly cleaned, removing any dust and dirt and leaving only pure air in the system. The clean air is then directed through the heat exchange and cooling process, bringing it to its dew-point – the temperature at which condensation occurs – to create high quality water.

Watergen’s Large Scale unit is an industrial scale AWG, designed for towns, villages, factories, off-grid settlements and communities. It can generate up to 5,000 liters of clean water each day. The first AWG system was installed in New Delhi, India in 2017.


WATER AID: In 2018 Cape Town, South Africa became the first major city in the modern era to threaten to switch off the water supply chain. Under Level 6B restrictions this amounts to just 50 litres of water per day to each of its 3.7 million residents. This is due to the worst drought the Cape has experienced in a century, and poor water management by South Africa’s ruling party (the African National Congress, ANC). In previous years Israel offered assistance in dealing with arid conditions and water preservation, but the ANC never took up the offer. Given the water crisis, an online petition asked the ANC to stop taking a pro-Palestinian anti-Israel stance and ask Israel for help.


Israel now boasts a number of agrochemical companies providing a wide range of products, from liquid fertilizers, to biopesticides, to fungicides, to potassium nitrate and phosphate salts, link. Smart fertilizer management software enables farmers to maximize crop yields, save costs and increase their profits. Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL) is a leading provider of potash, phosphate fertilizers and technology-rich specialty fertilizers – all critical inputs for Israel’s agriculture. ICL is the 6th largest potash producer in the world and the 2nd largest in Western Europe.

Agricultural Communities: the Kibbutz and the Moshav

Over 80% of Israel’s agriculture is based on ‘agricultural cooperatives’ like the kibbutz and the moshav, living on nationally owned land under a long-term renewable 49-year lease, link. There are also non-cooperative moshav farms which are villages of farmers on mostly privately-owned land. Over time the kibbutz has undergone a change of concept moving from an agricultural community to non-agriculture income and part-privatization.

So Why Boycott Israel’s Food?

Since we live in an interconnected world it is virtually impossible to avoid using Israeli products. Take fresh agricultural produce for example. In 2010, Israel’s fresh agricultural exports totalled $1.33 billion, and some 87% was exported to Europe [UN Commodity Trade Statistics]. Fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in Israel and on its settlements in the West Bank can be seen on sale at all the major supermarkets and greengrocers. The UK is the top market for Israeli citrus fruit, followed by Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and France. In UK supermarkets you will find avocado, sweet potato, tomatoes, galia melon, peppers, chilli, figs, strawberries, grapes, mango, plums, pomegranate, lychees and nectarines – all from Israel and its ‘illegal’ settlements! Is it logical to boycott Israeli fresh produce when we eat so much of it?


  1. I am looking at Tunisia to ;
    A] Develop agricultural produce for export to Europe.
    B] Create desperately needed long term employment for nationals
    Would MASHAV be interested in this Moslem country ?

  2. I m from Kenya.Im quite thrilled with the great transformation of Israel’s agriculture from Grass to Grace. I work in an irrigation project with an area of 1474 ha in Nyanza Region whose construction phase is about to be completed .The farmers have started farming in areas where the infrastructure is complete. I wanted to request that you allow some of the leading youth farmers in the project area visit Israel to learn new technologies which they will use in these new project. The current farmers are aging and we need to encourage youths participation in agricultural activities for sake of sustainability of the irrigation schemes. The schemes population is youthful(60%).Your positive response will be highly appreciated.

  3. Good day, we are not surprised that Israel is feeding the whole world despite their location. It is a land flowing with honey and milk. Their brains are the honey and milk. Kindly help us in Nigeria.
    You are enjoined to keep on discovering and innovating . It is your God given talent

  4. I am Dr Marishet B. Ashamo (Veterinarian) from Ethiopia, Israel, my future land be blessed again and thank you God for fulfilling your covenant what you had told for fathers of Israel.

  5. Dear Sir,
    I am Janardhan from Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. We have lands with mango trees but not yielding much. We are planning to adopt Isreali technology organic farming to vegetables, fruits and grains. Kindly advice and provide us the resources.

      1. Hi! Agribator brings ISraeli technologies to India. Please contact us for more on how to increase mango yields.

  6. I love Israel, true chosen of God endured with all wisdom and God’s grace Please help me advance a careerer in CCTV Security systems to help my country Uganda curb crimes, I have a strong back in security monitoring systems and Customer call center. God bless and protect Israel from their enemies. Bless their prime minister and his carbinnet to defend the chosen nation of God.

  7. Hi i’m from Indonesia, i want to know more about the technology that you use in Israel especially in Arava, the farmers verry-verry best to growth plants

  8. Hi, I am from Vietnam. I am very excited with your agriculture. My ask is that do you have experience sharing program for Vietnam people? It is worthwhile for us

  9. Shortly after graduation from the University, I received a 1986 scholarship offer to “come over ” to Israel for study in agriculture and rejected it. What a lifetime loss. Now, my country rulers are comprehensively bewildered by free enterprise economy, and carefully select their trading partners. Now that I thirst for farming expertise, are there opportunities for Nigerians to re-create these feats in my community in Abia State which is within the abandoned Niger Delta area. How may I leverage, if any?

  10. Amazing biblical principles!!! Land of milk and honey. Cedar trees. Later rain with showers of blessings. Impossible became possible. Amazing desert semi arid. “Obedience withstood the test of time”. Thanks to our Lord as he still delivers wonderfully.

    I need more information and assistance in Israel’s innovative agriculture technology as I am sitting on a large portion of arable agricultural land which is partly covered under tropical rainforest. I am looking at viable and sustainable agriculture projects to initiate on a 2000 acres of land. Currently a river system is within reach of the land.

    I am from Papua New Guinea. Are you able to assist me through the Israel mission office in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea?

  11. I am very much interested israel technology implementation in our agriculture system, because our Karnataka chief minister Mr Kumaraswamy, is encouraged.

  12. hi im Mary Cris from the philippines. it is very interesting to know about the facts and advancement of technology that Israel has. however, experiencing it would be a great help for me to address our nation’s biggest problem, that is sustainable agriculture. we have a lot of lands which were just neglected. i am thinking of how can this be cultivated and use to address national food security. i graduated with a degree of bachelor of science in agriculture, cropscience major. i wish i could train in israel. how may i be able to do that?

  13. always excited about Israelis trend setting in agriculture // in water management/ new crop invention//
    new tech hattsoff
    god bless this nation

    chinnappa ganaoli devadas ravi kumar

  14. Woww As someone interested in Agriculture, Israel can be of great help to me and my country Malawi. I did a diploma course in food, nutrition and livelihoods security. Help me please I need advancement of knowledge in agriculture

  15. I am interested to know about how small farming (agriculture) especially in in-door farmings.

  16. marvelous to learn the way Israel shown to the world ,how a rocky terrain ground can be made into a productive form,it is just amazing to find things that are happened and the technologies invented to address.

  17. hello,I am NIYIBIZi jean de la croix from Rwanda have bachelor degrees in school of agriculture animal science and veterinary medicine, soil sciences department, I would like to get skill about agriculture of islael either by studying or internship if it is possible you can help me so that I share knowledge with our contry

  18. Considering the advances Israel has made and is still making in agriculture, I would be happy if I can have the opportunity to be trained in this country on modern-day and environmentally friendly farming methods. Specifically, I would like to learn how to organically and profitably grow peppers and tomatoes in a largely tropical Country like Nigeria with two Seasons (dry and rainy) and where ambient temperatures could be as high as 46 degrees Celsius during the dry season.

  19. I want to persuade my post doctoral research on dry land farming in Israel . Can anybody help me ????

  20. hi;
    i’m James a medium scale farmer from Tanzania, East Africa and i real like and admire the way you think. its quite different here where we have abundant fresh water and a wide vast arable land but facing a lot of problems especially poor yield and outdated technology as more than 90% of agriculture activities are rain fed and over millions of hectors uncultivated or undercultivated, however i’m real exited with your technology and i would like to be informed more how can i access it so i can use the land i have productively.

  21. Men! This is so thrilling. How I wish the semi-arid lands of Borno state, Nigeria can hav such agricultural revolutions

  22. the holy land,zion of agriculture.i’d like to cultivate or be employed in the number is +254702936396

  23. I am highly impressed. I would like to hear more from you. If I could get a chance to learn in Israel I am sure Kenya would be a step ahead.

  24. I am very interested to know more about Isreal’s agriculture. And i hope i will keep on contacting.

  25. i am highly impressed.i wish i could be trained in isreal in the field of agricutural technology.any chance this might be possible?

  26. I would like to venture into serious Agriculture by the use of irrigation in Kenya,i need to produce a lot of fruits,milk,cereals and vegetables right from the big parcels of fallow can i get this amazing discussion.

    1. Hi, I am interested to know more about the latest Isreali technology on agro farming. We have plans in China for a large scale agriculture projects starting from scratch. Kindly let me know who I can contact to follow-up with this discussion.

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